Caring About the Glock

To realize, even delusively, that knowing a little implies knowing a lot because the one is related to the other is to me a great comfort.  If, for example, we know one subject well, an understanding of other parallel subjects is implied.  Knowing the history of a city says much about the development and decay revealed in larger topics.  Knowing the history of a state teaches much about the analogous history of the nation.  The part reveals the whole—it is the principle of synecdoche, and if you don’t believe me, then just ask Emily Dickinson.

Thus, the history of the world is shown in memorable, accessible topics, such as the history of sailing and ships, for example.  And the history of civilization can be concretized in all kinds of imagery: houses of worship, foodstuffs, clothing, and so on.  So a personal and particular interest can lead to a larger engagement and understanding.  The development of technology, in modern times so familiar to us, speaks volumes about our lives in ways both obvious and subtle.

So the subject of Paul Barrett’s book is not one about which we should be at all presumptuous.  His is not a treatment conceived for a particular audience—above all, it is not a book aimed at those devoted to “guns,” or at members of the National Rifle Association, or at Second Amendment absolutists, even...

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